The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946 Page: 67
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The House of Barr and Davenport
uncertain official boundaries, the Neutral Ground was recognized
as a well-known area lying between two sovereign nations but
under the authority of neither of the two. This condition was
not altered until the time of the Adams-Onis treaty. By the
terms of this treaty all of the territory included in the Neutral
Ground was yielded by Spain to the United States, and the
Sabine River, from its mouth to the thirty-second parallel, was
designated as the western boundary of Louisiana bordering
The boundaries of the Neutral Ground have never been
officially described. As a matter of fact, only the Sabine River
and the Arroyo Hondo were officially designated in the informal
agreement between Lieutenant Colonel Herrera and General
Wilkinson. Even these boundaries were partial and indefinite
inasmuch as their extent along these streams was never stated.
Furthermore, only one semi-official map of the Neutral Ground
is extant.2 Since the boundaries were never officially described,
however, this map cannot be said to be accurate. If a fairly
accurate and acceptable map of the Neutral Ground is to be
drawn, the sources describing the boundaries must first be
All available contemporaneous sources display confusion in
regard to the boundaries of the Neutral Ground. Later sources
show similar uncertainty. The Mississippi River was the earliest
official eastern boundary of Texas.3 According to this definition,
the eastern boundary of the Neutral Ground should have been
the Mississippi River. This absurd claim, fortunately, was never
pressed. Maps of Louisiana available to Spanish and American
officers at the time of the transfer were not reliable, as admitted
'Developments leading to the proclamation of the Adams-Onis treaty,
and the treaty itself, are excellently treated in Philip Coolidge Brooks,
Diplomacy and the Borderlands.
2This map is given in Gorostiza Pamphlet: Message from the President
of the United States, Transmitting a Copy and Translation of a Pamphlet,
in the Spanish Language, Printed and Circulated by the Late Minister
from Mexico before His Departure from the United States (25 Cong., 2
Sess., House Doc. No. 190, Serial No. 327). This map shows the Sabine to the
thirty-second parallel, thence a straight line north to the Red River as the
western boundary; the Red River as the northern boundary; a straight line
running from the Red River in a southeasterly direction to intersect the
Mermenteau River a few miles from its mouth, thence the Mermenteau to
the Gulf of Mexico, as the eastern boundary; and the Gulf of Mexico as
the southern boundary. (Hereafter this source will be cited as Doc. 190.)
3Expediente, April 28, 1718, pp. 5-6, MS., Bexar Archives. A transla-
tion of this expediente may be found in the Southwestern Historical
Quarterly, XLIII, 482-485.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 49, July 1945 - April, 1946, periodical, 1946; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth146056/m1/76/: accessed July 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.